All posts by Judith Greenaway

Judith is a Sydney theatre worker who was ‘born in a trunk’. With a lifelong passion for all performing arts, she has turned her hand to many jobs in film, TV and live theatre. Ranging from earning pocket money for trimming the back legs off tables, so they sat flat on raked stages to owning her own touring theatre company. A lighting designer by trade, Judith experiences performances with a technical eye and an understanding of the jobbing actor and the theatrical bedrock which supports them.

JETPACK’S ‘ART HEIST’ : AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Jetpack Theatre’s ART HEIST is inspired storytelling. Yet there is no story and no telling. You and your companions are the story, the triumph, the saga! Whatever exposition you choose to tell. The 3 performers are just there, part of the tale as you write the script. And these are very nuanced actors with improvisation instincts that must be tested over their 3 shows a night. Great scene partners too because this is bespoke, immersive theatre of the highest calibre.

But, not quite knowing what I was getting into I gathered an odd assortment of four players. We were young (our Yr 11 Workplacement student, Lauren) and old (that would be me). A married couple (Bec and Ben) who know each other well, naturally. I don’t know Ben well except for a dance with him at the wedding and Lauren didn’t know anyone except me. We were a logical yet creative collective. An artist, a banker, a technician and an actor. Continue reading JETPACK’S ‘ART HEIST’ : AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT

Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017

 

SWF Survey Questions

This week, in an organisation I work with, I participated in a study about volunteer retention. Today I had a practical lesson in how. Via the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Survey taker Induction. How hard can it be? I might just miss this one! It will be fine on the day! It’s all good! Just asking questions, right? This might have been my thinking when my roster first came out but my Festival volunteer experience so far leads me to believe that if they run a course in something, go to it. And I was right.

We were a pretty representative group and all the worries when I am approached to do surveys were mentioned in today’s briefing: Is my data available to marketers; if I give you my email to enter the competition for a $200 Glebebooks voucher, is it linked to my data; you just want me to say good stuff about the Festival don’t you; will you be sending me emails asking for donations? Answer to all of the above. Nope. Continue reading Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017

AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS

 

You can’t go wrong with Agatha Christie. Well I suppose you could. But not if you are the Genesian Theatre Company. This is their metier. A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED is gripping, stylish entertainment. Adapted by Leslie Darbon, the play is from 1987 but it retains all the period elements that audiences require of a Christie Mystery. The Genesians have assembled an excellent cast, put them on a lovely set and costumed them superbly.

A unusual notice has been put in the village paper of the small English spa town of Chipping Cleghorn. It announces a murder will be committed at ‘Little Paddocks’ on Friday evening at 6:30. The household see it as rather a joke but neighbours and villagers are sure to drop by around about then. And no one is going to keep a certain Miss Jane Marple, in the village to take the waters for her rheumatism, away from the possibility of a delicious mystery.

And delicious it is. Owing much to  the way the climax has been adapted by the playwright who has wisely removed some of the novel’s more hysterical events such as an attempted drowning in the kitchen sink and the Snugglepuss redolent, Miss Murgatroyd: yet kept the period flavour which is required to keep Miss M in her place and time. Continue reading AGATHIE CHRISTIE’S ‘A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED’ @ THE GENESIANS

BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

 

Between is exactly how I would describe Mophead Theatre’s world premiere production of Melita Rowston’s BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON. The play is not quite sure of its identity and the cast are caught in the blurry light between natural beauty and mechanical glare. There is some fine work to be seen in the production, work which explores the complex ideas and does its best to elevate the overstatement.

Australian Academic Zadie works at King’s College, London. She is being pressured by the publish or perish mentality as she struggles to complete her PHD. She proposes that there is a letter somewhere that proves that Édouard Manet, despite his denials, was lover to his oft subject, and artist in her own right, Berthe Morisot. She is also supervising her effervescent French student, Dominique, and dealing with a younger, almost lover, Barry, who has come to London to display in a prestigious art competition. When she travels to Paris at the behest friend and Head of Department, Janet, she has random encounters with artistic provocateur Jeff. Continue reading BETWEEN THE STREETLIGHT AND THE MOON @ KINGS CROSS THEATRE

DIARY OF A VOLUNTEER : SYDNEY WRITER’S FESTIVAL

Any new experience can be a bit scary and there were a lot of reassured volunteers today when Misty, Sydney Writer’s Festival Volunteer Manager looked across the rows of eager newbies and said. “You will probably be petrified when you arrive at the Vollies Green Room for the first time. Don’t worry. We’ll spot you!” And that’s my takeaway from today’s Volunteer Orientation, we are in good hands.

Experience tells and as Misty and Ashleigh, the Volunteer Co-coordinator, warmly greeted the hundreds of volunteers as we queued for orientation, they knew our names and what we were slated for. Both the old hands like some of the people around me, and novices like myself and the new queue friend I had just made.

It looked like there were equal numbers of both as we did a show of hands for the more experienced and the excitable new ones. I sort of expected older people for reasons that don’t make any sense when I think about it. We are young and old, able bodied and differently abled. My new intergenerational friend is an aspiring writer and the couple near me voracious readers. And we all seem to be ‘volunteery’ type people. RFS, SES, Red Cross, working with youth, nursing home visitor we all seem to do something and so many people look forward to giving their time on the SWF each year.

Including our team supervisors. 28 of them with 130 combined Festivals between them. As badges were given for 5, 10 years volunteer service up to an impressive 13 years, I was getting that very calming ‘we’ve got you’ vibe. And the training only served to put me even further at ease. Emergency training, weather training, anecdotes to learn from and lots of thank yous and look after yourselfs. And being of a theatrical bent, I especially loved the variety of ways one of our trainers said nearly 30 times. “Don’t go in the water!” It’s not a thing apparently!

There is no secret to how to behave when you are a volunteer. We are united by a willingness and desire to help just as the SWF crowds are united in their love of ideas and their expression. Well behaved too we are told. Our team leaders have encountered most out of norm situations and as hundreds of us were ushered around the site by helpful, friendly, knowledgeable supervisors we got a real time, best practice demonstration.

There’s homework admittedly. We need to know where the toilets are about a thousand times a day. Know what events are on during your shift. Know where the venues are and know the map intimately. Questions continue all the way home on the train if you are still wearing your T-shirt and lanyard we are told.

I will be very excited to report on my first question… hope it’s not too pedestrian. Or too hairy. Either way I am ready to go. First stop: my local library for Sandra Leigh Price and The River Sings.

Sydney Writers Festival is 22-28th May
https://www.swf.org.au/
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Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuCZP35tRLm6YfvB9HiS3Vg
iTunes Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/au/podcast/sydney-writers-festival/id985898011?mt=2

 

PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS @ THE OLD 505

 

Genuinely fearing for my life, I tried to think of something else. Like… how does an overdressed, pathetically outlandish, absurdly silent creature do this to a bunch of strangers? I didn’t actually get to an answer because I lost focus on the rational and started laughing again. Snot dribbling, eye watering, heart contracting, can’t breathe laughing.

PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS is playing at one of my favourite venues, Old 505 Theatre in Newtown. It’s a small independent theatre which consistently punches above its weight but as the intro last night said “It’s not often we have an artist fly in from Mexico.” Gabriela Muñoz is a legend in the clowning community. And her internationally feted creation, Greta, is here for the first time.

To get the Miss Haversham references over early, Greta is alone, a wedding fantasist, spurned yet desperate for love and garbed in a tattered bridal gown. She doesn’t notice us until the audience is fully seated and then we become her playmates in a shared fantasy of enduring love. The clown doesn’t speak but has a squeaky, musical intonation that’s useful when we don’t get what is required of us by the eternally quizzical eyebrow or her small, intimate movements. Continue reading PERHAPS, PERHAPS…QUIZAS @ THE OLD 505

THE CHAPEL PERILOUS : SALLY BANNER COMES LIVES AGAIN @ THE NEW

 

Loved it. I just loved everything about New Theatre’s THE CHAPEL PERILOUS. I loved the lead performance, I loved the men, I loved the set, lighting, audio, costumes. I loved the Ensemble work. I even loved my Cherry Ripe at interval.

But then … I would say that wouldn’t I.

Any Australian woman of a certain age, who studied literature or was involved in theatre or who loved too deeply, has Sally Banner as part of her feminist socio-political DNA.

Playwright Dorothy Hewitt called the play outrageously biographical, so much so that one of her ex-husbands sued for libel. The out of court settlement meant that the play was never produced or sold in Western Australia until his death early this century. But the time is right for Sally Banner to rise again.

I was despairing to see her again and there she was fully fleshed. Tormented by unseen desires, achingly desperate and encumbered by intelligence, gender and status Sally Banner is one of the more difficult of the monstrous regiment of women who dare an opinion. She is as I remember her. Yet….

Director Carissa Licciardello has brought us a Sally Banner for a new generation. Not updated exactly, still scrupulously set 1930s to 60s but a modern protagonist for all that. However, it’s a very difficult play. An audience needs to know about the society Sally inhabits: it is not writ large, it’s background only and if you didn’t live it, it must seem very foreign. There were several noisy escapees last night and more who didn’t return after interval. But it’s a marvellous rendering so, young or old go and see it. But here’s what you need to know if you haven’t met Sally before.

Catholics or Masons: small towns were divided that way and Masons had lodges not schools. Viciously rigid, ecclesiastical Sisters and Mothers and Brothers and Fathers were the way to get what your parents saw as a good education for nice girls. Not that it mattered. Nurses or teachers … that’s why women went to university. Same sex desire, youthful sexual desire of any overt kind actually, was sinful and there was no shortage of people your age and older to condemn it in you. As consciousness heightened in them the search often took women to a political place and the fear of the Red Menace was just as real in Australia if not as excessively hunted as in the US.

Our introduction to Sally Banner is when she looks out and begins a list of women’s names, aspirationally adding hers to the list as a poet. Julia Christensen holds the stage from that first sequence. Christiansen is terrific as the schoolgirl Sally. Pragmatic and driven but young and passionate. By the time she cheekily looks directly at us before she is called to bow to the altar, we are hers. When her indecision and acquiescence to some of the men in her life muddy the passion of the older Sally, Christiansen brings so much genuine emotion to the role that tears arise unbidden. I headed to wash my face before getting my interval chocolate.

And her voice work is exceptional. After interval, when the strewn wreckage of Sally’s choices rises and falls on the Red Tide she both whispers and yells with no sign of strain or any assault on the ear. The accent is modern. No clipped Received Pronunciation here; vowels are long and consonants elided. Her physicality is open and she listens with as much intent as she speaks. It’s a bravura performance.

And she is well matched by Tom Matthews who plays the men in her life. The directorial choice to tie these men together with a unified softness of manner gives strong character support to Sally’s disappointed search to rewrite that first betrayal.

Mathews’ men are clear characterisations with clear intent but are neither showy not abrasive. He might don eyewear or divest of a shirt but he doesn’t twist or manipulate these men into being. We understand that they are Sally’s ‘type’ and that their individuality is blurred by her perceptions of them.

Licciardello has guided all her cast into fine characterisations. As Judith, Meg Clarke expresses well the struggles of acknowledging love outside societal norms and her perfidy is convincingly torn. Brett Heath and Alison Chambers are scarred and scared from the war, from boredom, from being saddled with a difficult child and they work well together as the first wall that Sally must scale.

Though the first section of the show is an hour and a half, the second much shorter, Licciardello has also successfully plotted the rhythm of the play. There are busy scenes but there is also quietude to allow an audience to appreciate the pathos. The after sex scene is an excellent example of the intelligent, intellectual heartbreak of a formative disappointment. There is also some lovely movement work from the cast. The break-back dip during Night and Day was so subtle, sweet and character filled that I gasped out loud at its power.

And Licciardello has brought out the humour too, right from the beginning where misguided recollections batter at reality. I might have been the only one laughing quietly last night, but when you do go allow yourself to enjoy the lightness of the play. And the communal nature of the stylistic interventions of Hewitt’s text. Like the music of Jerusalem and The Worker’s Flag with the slow beat of an unfelted shoe on a bare stage.

Kyle Jonsson’s set has a primitive, claustrophobic feel reminiscent of Stone Age caves with sacrificial altars. When lit from behind the implication of a paling fence is there in upstage uprights but the real effect is to echo the Eureka Stockade. Our heroine tries to rebel against being fenced in for much of the play. The entrances are well masked, wide and perfectly timed by the cast. The symbolic triangle, the Egyptian and feminist symbol for woman, though inverted, dominates the set. And provides the lighted path to Sally’s final act toward the Chapel Perilous of Arthurian legend.

Clemence Williams audio and Martin Kinnane lighting had me from the start. That first burst of thunder and lightning to herald initial character entry… wow. The lighting is warm and focusing and the big hits of white from upstage glare and foreground when needed. The state changes gently guide the audience eye as the audio underscore impassively supports the emotional imperative then gets out of the way. Single sounds, bassy or higher pitched; long and mournful the audio wafts and weaves without overpowering.

Even Neko Case on the soundtrack at interval was emotive and perfectly chosen. Courtney Westbrook’s costumes raise the scarlet standard high amongst the unremitting beige and grey and I loved the almost imperceptible change of period style after the interval.

I loved it all. New Theatre’s THE CHAPEL PERILOUS is one of my favourite shows this year. Pack some Cherry Ripes in your handbag and experience what a modern cast bring to a story of its time. Not to be missed.

THE CHAPEL PERILOUS continues at New Theatre, Newtown until 27 May.

 

DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS @ KING STREET THEATRE

 

Thrillers are tricky. TV only gets it right sometimes and even multi-million dollar movies can miss the mark. Go to the theatre to see a thriller and what do we want? For me, I want the experience to include some mystery, some high tension goings on and some unseeable, unexpected, plot twists. Throwing Shade’s DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS does a really good job putting all these on stage at King Street Theatre.

The self-named Timothy Timmony, an alchemist’s name if we ever heard it, appears to be a mild mannered, slightly absent minded and bumbling bookshop proprietor. As he is closing for the day, into his little shop bursts Simon Matthews, an adventurer of sorts with a rather odd desire for a book on the Napoleonic Wars. The mystery begins.

DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS is the little play that could. Written and set by Warwick Moss in the early 1980s in Sydney, it has had productions in London and off Broadway and one production received a favourable review in the New York Times in 1987. Moss has spoken in an interview about his love for the secrets behind cat’s eyes and how his book owner also relishes the ability of secrets to get you what you want.

The cast of Gabriel Egan (Simon) and William Jordan (Timothy) with director Tom Richards have created a production which balances the mystery of the developing storyline with the lighter moments as the unscrupulous young tomcat circles the streetwise and manipulative alleycat.

Egan brings that high energy on with him and manages the delicate task of keeping Simon dynamic without wearing out his audience or getting so big as to be out of character.

Jordan is equally effective at being openly secretive by engendering Timothy with the distinct impression he has just told a lie, even when being confessional.

The production elements tie in nicely to the 1984 setting and it’s worth staying in the theatre at interval to listen to some great Aussie rock tracks.

It’s quite a short offering but, apart from a dip in the second sequence, DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS is an entertaining pacey show.

DOWN AN ALLEY FILLED WITH CATS continues at King Street Theatre until 13 May.

Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017

If the act of reading is necessarily a quiet, solitary activity the opposite can be true of when we share or discuss what we read. This dynamic communality is what draws me every year to the Sydney Writer’s Festival.

Some of the best conversations I have ever had about writing, the perception of writing, even the act of writing have been in queues on cool May afternoons as I wait gratefully to attend an SWF event. Strangers with whom I might disagree, agree, agree to disagree or simply be excited with.

And it appears that I am not the only one who acknowledges the pleasure of choosing from over 300 events each year. Today I did my first shift as an SWF volunteer. One of the hundreds of people who put up their hands to make this iconic Sydney event run smoothly for the solitary love of reading and the vibrant sharing of what we read. Continue reading Diary of a Volunteer: Sydney Writers Festival 2017

5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE @ GLEN STREET : A FLUFFY CONFECTION

5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE … good title! As they say. And truth in advertising. There are lesbians, five in fact, and there is a quiche. More than one actually. Plus there is a disturbingly excitable female cast, a ludicrous number of egg references and some extraordinarily silly language- reclamation of the ‘L’ word.

The Susan B Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein is a group of mid 1950s widows who meet to honour their founder who was lost, hungry and butch when she stumbled into a bunch of wild chickens whose eggs sustained her in some peculiar ritualistic, emotive, gynocentric kind of way.

Yeah, even typing that is weird. So … anyway: they have an annual sacred quiche competition to honour the egg, the ovum, the pre-chicken dinner. Apparently we, the audience, have submitted a quiche for judgement too. But the threat of nuclear war is putting a damper on the hijinks. The red menace looms like against- the-rules meat in a quiche. Continue reading 5 LESBIANS EATING A QUICHE @ GLEN STREET : A FLUFFY CONFECTION

JACINTEGRATING WITH JACINTA GREGORY @ THE FACTORY

Jacintergrating is … um… Entertainavating!  

Jacinta Gregory has constructed an entertaining show full of carefully balanced variety, terrific singing with great music and loads of promise.  Beginning with a very well penned, funny yet sort of sad, opening song about Gregory’s depression and ending with a full downer ballad about her struggles, the show has Gregory’s singing and original material at its centre.

And she writes really well.  The songs, short and snappy in the main, have a wistful ring beneath their wry look at life. It’s light with an occasional hint of something deeper but not taking itself too seriously.  There is no shortage of satire either.  Getting an audience on her side to singalong with a racist ditty about nationalism was really clever.   Continue reading JACINTEGRATING WITH JACINTA GREGORY @ THE FACTORY

SYDNEY MARDI GRAS PARADE 2017 : A GREAT CELEBRATION

Being in the Mardi Gras Parade?  One word … chafing.  Maybe too words … sore feet.  Possibly three words… rain and drizzle.

So why do it?

This is what my photographer friend and I set out to explore in the 3 hours we were wandering in the float assembly area before the off.  I know why I do it.  Despite the weather, forgetting the very tender balls of my feet this morning and in spite of a wet weather plastic uniform which would simply not behave and stay away from exposed skin!  I march with the SES because it is an inclusive organisation that welcomes all people and who helps anyone in the community who needs us. Continue reading SYDNEY MARDI GRAS PARADE 2017 : A GREAT CELEBRATION

BELL SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS ‘RICHARD III @ THE PLAYHOUSE

 

Kate Mulvany IS Shakespeare’s Richard III. No need to read any further. Get your hands on a ticket now as they will become collectors’ items and in 5, 10, 20 years’ time when people speak of Mulvany’s performance, and they will, you will want to say you were there. Bell Shakespeare and Kate Mulvany bring RICHARD III spine- tinglingly alive at the Sydney Opera House.

Why Shakespeare’s Richard III? Since his carpark exhumation from the remains of Leicester’s Greyfriars Church in August 2012, the legacy reconstruction of the last king of the House of York, last of the Plantagenet dynasty is part of the zeitgeist. That man is not Shakespeare’s man. When he wrote it, Will was an early-career, jobbing actor and writer: politically and financially bound to sponsors. Sponsors like the Stanley Family who appear to great credit in a play designed to flatter one reputation by destruction of another.

In this 400 year old text, the Duke, Protector, King thereafter who must be brought to life is physically ‘misshapen’ and emotionally driven to ‘stand upon the hazard of the die’. Mulvany and Director Peter Evans have interrogated this, the second longest of the canon, and found in it the caustic humour and the slimy charm that allows real insight into the mind of this villain. Without the blood and gore implied and with delicious licence to secretly enjoy the malicious machinations of the unreconstructed Richard. Continue reading BELL SHAKESPEARE PRESENTS ‘RICHARD III @ THE PLAYHOUSE

FAIRLY LUCID THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘MEMBER’ @ BLOOD MOON THEATRE

 

Since 472 BC when Aeschylus created dialogue by adding ‘the antagonist’ to what had only been chorus and ‘the protagonist’, theatrical representations of human impulses have most often been expressed as discussion.

MEMBER has only one man on stage. He is protagonist and antagonist, speaker and listener, inner thought and outward expression. There is, however, further discussion taking place behind him in the shadows of the tiny black stage, where a clamour of voices has contributed to this extraordinary work. Artists, common people and the recounting of those involved are all alive in the yellowing spotlights.

And in the tinny bip of heart rate monitor which assaults in the darkness to open the show. Continue reading FAIRLY LUCID THEATRE COMPANY PRESENTS ‘MEMBER’ @ BLOOD MOON THEATRE

MARK LANGHAM’S ‘BIG CROW’ @ ACTORS PULSE THEATRE REDFERN

Sometimes it’s so nice to just sit in an intimate theatre to feel a show rather than just watch and hear. BIG CROW is certainly intimate. You are close to the cast, almost stepping over a dying boy as you enter. And it’s a narrow story with characters who are in a situation of their own devising.

Tommy and Albie accepted a spur of the minute trip from London to Australia. A big move for the 1930’s but any promise of the good life has been sucked out of the boys by Roy, a farmer who talked them into working for him in the middle of nowhere and has treated them very badly. They decide on revenge and attack Roy bent on killing him. Roy appears not to have treated anyone of his acquaintance well. His wife and daughter happen upon the scene and are content to watch rather than intervene. Continue reading MARK LANGHAM’S ‘BIG CROW’ @ ACTORS PULSE THEATRE REDFERN

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY : A MARVELLOUSLY COHESIVE PRODUCTION BY SIREN THEATRE COMPANY

Nothing is as it seems in THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY. From the obscuring haze of thick smoke as we enter the theatre to the delicately constructed dance of death that concludes the work, people and events are viewed through a glass darkly. A mirror, a lens, a dirty window pane perhaps. There is an obstinate obfuscation in Lachlan Philpott’s text and Director Kate Gaul has successfully pulled the story from the page without exposing it to the full light. Like the magnesium flashpowder of the antique photographer’s T which will give light to a sepia photograph, there are puffs of understanding dispersed in a stillness of wondering.

THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY is a highly theatrical interpretation of a true story. Harry Crawford was arrested in July 1920 for the October 1917 murder of his wife, Annie. Her charred remains had been found near the Lane Cove River at Chatswood where she and Harry had been picnicking. When taken to the police station, Harry asked to be taken to the female cells and it was revealed that he was in fact Eugenia Falleni, assigned female at birth. Harry had been living as cisgender man since he had run away to sea as a very young person.

The image on Siren CT’s poster is from the Historic Houses Trust held mugshot and there have been exhibitions and articles, books and podcasts about the case in our own time. But it is the morbid curiosity, malice and prurient interest of the public at the time of Harry’s trial that allows us so many records about the case. Continue reading THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY : A MARVELLOUSLY COHESIVE PRODUCTION BY SIREN THEATRE COMPANY

JESS SCOTT DRIKSNA’S ‘MAKING LOVE’ : A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE?!

Most Sydney theatres have something running to support the LGBTQI community during Mardi Gras.  Gone are the days when it was about grasping for the pink or lavender dollar, the offerings these days are genuine attempts to tell stories which put the gay and lesbian community on stage with dignity and acceptance.  MAKING LOVE does that in spades.  The story may have a heterosexual story as the plot driver but love is the theme.  Whoever you love.  

It’s the future.  One can buy abiding love if you are as rich and successful as Sara is.  Sara is nervous.  She has purchased or designed or created or customised (euphemisms abound and there is an evident nomenclature war for acceptance) a synthetic companion D’Arcy.  D’Arcy is being delivered with the support of a PAXCORP representative, Mitchell and his synthetic partner Hercules.  It’s all a bit comfy until Jackson, an old flame, unexpectedly bursts in and skews the dynamic.  There is also a truth game invented by Hercules which threatens the harmony. Continue reading JESS SCOTT DRIKSNA’S ‘MAKING LOVE’ : A LOOK INTO THE FUTURE?!

TROP JNR 2017 : OUR YOUNG FILMMAKERS SHOW PLENTY OF PROMISE

Mums and Dads were highest on the thank you lists from the participants for TROP JNR this year and the audience was certainly filled with siblings and adults rooting for their films.

TROP JR is part of TROPFEST and has been running side by side since 2008. Modelled on the world’s largest short film festival, TROPFEST,  TROP JR is a short filmmaking competition and a free, outdoor festival for kids aged 15 years and younger.  Each year there is a ‘signature item’ which needs to be included. This year was it was ‘mask’.

TROPFEST moved from Centennial Park to Parramatta Park this year but the weather was not co-operating. To keep the kids safe in the extreme heat, the organizers moved events to a cinema and everyone I spoke to was incredibly relieved to be settled into the air con. Some of the tiniest supporters may have missed having a run in wide open spaces but the rest of us settled back to see these remarkable young filmmakers’ work. Continue reading TROP JNR 2017 : OUR YOUNG FILMMAKERS SHOW PLENTY OF PROMISE

TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull.

Photography by Ros O’Gorman.

Without confirming or denying whether I might have been involved, I can report that there was a kind of geriatric mosh pit for the finale of TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull. I can also report that the encores were played to standing audiences and that the roof was raised. It was a marvellous concert. Wonderful songs that have stood the test of time and voices to soothe the savage beast of some very hot and cross looking audience members on a 43 degree day.

Byrne and Bull hit the stage bare footed. You know it’s going to be good when artists want the freedom to move easily or plant their feet and belt. WAY OVER YONDER begins and the voices fill the room and wrap around us before the power of a yearning bass guitar sneaks in. Calm descends and “true peace of mind” is sweet and longing as the artists swap leads back and forth.

Their blend is just lovely, Bull with those magnificent top notes deliciously combining with Byrne’s rich, full lower notes. The crowd went nuts about this time, and it didn’t let up through I FEEL THE EARTH MOVE when the seating started to shake with the audience’s rhythmic nod-along.

Byrne and Bull spoke often to the audience, explaining their joy in celebrating with us the work of Carole King, about the history of the album and titbits concerning their relationship with the songs. Bull was five years old when TAPESTRY came out. But Byrne, like the older women and slightly fewer older men who made up most of the crowd, found that for every life experience, King had written a song. As the singer explained , they couldn’t do them all but they gave it a bloody good try.

The Brill band, named for the iconic building associated with Carole King and explored in the BRILL BUILDING LEGENDS recording series, are lovely in support but the night belongs to the two women. And their moves.

Byrne has lost none of her YOUNG TALENT TIME dance skills. She glides and stomps and taps around the stage yet the highlight of the night for me was the two of them on stools: still and soulful. Seated downstage centre for YOU’VE GOT A FRIEND the voices melded in the sheer joy of wonderful piano orchestration and the love of expressing emotion. Goosebumps! TAPESTRY was also superb as they stood together in that downstage area, arms around each other in a soft amber light.

Everyone seemed to have their favourites. The band would give the first few bars of any intro and a cheer would go up somewhere. Byrne and Bull rollicked or gently meandered through I THINK I CAN HEAR YOU; SMACKWATER JACK; BEAUTIFUL; GOING BACK and heaps more.

Second favourite? COME DOWN EASY with Bull’s unparalleled harmonics, and featuring only bongos and triangle behind Byrne’s soulful rendition. No wonder I was out of my seat for the encores. Oops!

TAPESTRY: THE SONGS OF CAROLE KING, with Debra Byrne and Vika Bull, was performed for one night only, Friday 10th February at the Enmore Theatre.

 

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED : WIT AND LAUGHTER @ THE NEW

THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED is such fun.

If you are a lover of rapid fire witticisms, frequent bon mots or bitchily wry observations you are in for a treat. There is luscious dialogue rich with contrapuntal adjectives in a very funny script. This New Theatre’s production is well realised with a nice balance of meaningless fluff and fluffy meaningfulness. Not too heavy, not too light, just all round enjoyable.

Mitchell is an up and coming movie star. Diane is his vociferous agent and wannabe producer. Alex is a men’s escort. Ellen is Alex’s love interest. In the beginning anyway.

Mitchell, who is seriously pissed in a hotel room, hires Alex. Things do not go well initially but in the morning there is the distinct whiff of a disastrous amour fou. Diane will need to balance bedings with the bravura public performances keeping Mitchell’s sexual orientation firmly cupboard-locked. She gets it: she’s a fixer … and a lesbian …so rely on her to get things done. Ellen is a party girl and knows what it means to be dumped, still this is a new one even for her. Continue reading THE LITTLE DOG LAUGHED : WIT AND LAUGHTER @ THE NEW

DOGFIGHT : ANOTHER OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION BY BLACKOUT THEATRE COMPANY

Blackout Theatre is kicking ass and taking names at Lend Lease Theatre in the Darling Quarter.

Add my name to the list: the list of supporters and advocates for this kick-ass community theatre and the list of audience members who absolutely loved DOGFIGHT on its opening night.

DOGFIGHT is a musical set in San Francisco, November 21st 1963 as the Vietnam War rages and Haight Ashbury is attracting the ‘love not hate’ unwashed . It was written with hindsight in the early part of the second decade of this century by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, known together as Pasek and Paul, who won the Golden Globe and have been nominated for an Oscar for LA LA LAND. It did not wow at the time.

Here are some names for you: Derek Klena; Lindsay Mendez. They were in the original production. DOGFIGHT had a very successful season at the Hayes in 2015 but this is DOGFIGHT’s Australian amateur premier. Continue reading DOGFIGHT : ANOTHER OUTSTANDING PRODUCTION BY BLACKOUT THEATRE COMPANY

ATYP PRESENTS ‘INTERSECTION ‘ @ STUDIO 1

If INTERSECTION is any indication of the professionalism, focus and commitment of the next generation of performing artists then the art is in a pretty good state. From 15 -24 years, these nineteen actors have my complete admiration for their unwavering composure as they brought to life the 10 short plays in the 90 minute production. I attended a matinee … it was viciously hot; patrons were reluctantly and unavoidably noisily leaving because of the swelter; there was a somewhat drunken, very loud party going on outside and yet not one performer short- changed their audience.

Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) has a few generations of experience behind them and is well known for their facilitation and creation of new works. INTERSECTION is one such. ATYP supports a diverse range of Youth Theatre activities including the annual National Studio where they work with young and emerging writers for youth. Continue reading ATYP PRESENTS ‘INTERSECTION ‘ @ STUDIO 1

GENERAL PUBLIC THEATRE COMPANY FUNDRAISER @ PACT

What’s the right stuff for a small theatre company to succeed in such a crowded Sydney performance scene? Drive, nous, commitment and a unique take on what will strike a chord with audiences? The General Public Theatre Company seems to have all of this. They have shows on and on the go. They post with a strong social media presence to a loyal and growing following who have contributed to their Pozible campaign. They have been together long enough… since 2014. Solid so far. But more important to my appreciation of their outsider’s take, they are women. Young, unique and creative women. Queensland women. One of them is an alumnus of my own Townsville Alma Mater. Being an, albeit transplanted, creative Queenslander myself I took some cockroaches with me to see what we thought of their Double Bill last night

Pretty damn good stuff.

EUROPE WON’T FIX YOU is a humorous take on that great rite of passage, the OS trip. Alternate reality smacks straight into actual reality and the cast of 5 interchangeable mid-twenty year olds have some decidedly disturbing experiences. A nasty Paris ‘canard’ moment, a cleansing German hostel encounter and an anti-stodge veggie craving with all kinds of not going to happen. Continue reading GENERAL PUBLIC THEATRE COMPANY FUNDRAISER @ PACT

MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL LAUNCH

Diversity within the LGBTIQ community? Search no further than the 24th Mardi Gras Film Festival program. Curated by Queer Screen, the range of topics and genres is truly impressive.

At the season launch last night, Queer Screen’s President Lisa Rose spoke about their mission to provide a “celebration of queer storytelling on screen”. Inclusive, respectful stories full of creativity, inspiration and pride.

There are big big films and there are small big films and everything in between. Like MOONLIGHT  which has just been nominated in several categories including Best Picture for the 2017 Oscars. There is singalong, a smellovison 3 D FINDING DORY for the rainbow family and even mystery movie plus more superb international and home-grown documentaries, dramas, romances etc than you can poke a glitter wand at.

Then there are the shorts. Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Asia/Pacific shorts all have showings and if this doesn’t suit there is even an evening of Mixed Shorts. Continue reading MARDI GRAS FILM FESTIVAL LAUNCH

DON’T CALL ME SON

DON’T CALL ME SON is an intimate film. The story, the characters, the setting … all personal.  The filmmaking… close-up and exclusive of clutter in dialogue, plot and technique.  One of the films chosen for Queer Screen’s 24th Mardi Gras Film Festival, this offering from Brazil, subtitled from the Portuguese, has been on the Festival Circuit since its premier at the Berlin Film Festival in February last year.  At that event it won the Teddy which Berlinale’s site calls ‘the most outstanding queer film prize in the world’.  It was in Australia for last year’s Melbourne Film Festival and has been selected for 20 Festivals from Transatlantyk to Ljubljana.

True to the intimacy which pervades the film, the film’s protagonist is in tight shot as we follow him through a party before the credits. The colours pulse blue and sexy, the music thumps distantly and he is wearing a confusingly closely feathered bird headpiece.  He accepts an intimate hug from a male partner and a deep kiss from a female dancer.  Then the realism sets in.  Suddenly he and the girl are having sex in a starkly white, brightly lit bathroom.  As the camera tilts down from the activity it is clear that he is wearing lacy female underwear. Continue reading DON’T CALL ME SON